Radiation TherapyThe use of radiation beams (X-rays) to treat a cancer.

Radiation Therapy in Lymphoma - Lymphoma Research FoundationRadiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancerAbnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors. cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is a local therapyA therapy that only affects a small area., which means it only affects cancer cells in the treated area. Radiation is sometimes used alone for certain localized lymphomas, either nodal or extranodal, or may be combined with chemotherapyTreatment with drugs to stop the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells, including lymphoma cells..

A radiation fieldThe part of the body that receives radiation therapy. is the term used to describe the part of the body selected to receive radiation therapy. Radiation is generally confined to lymph nodesSmall bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. There are thousands of lymph nodes located throughout the body, with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. and the areas immediately surrounding lymphThe watery fluid in the lymph system that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes). nodes or the area of origin if the lymphoma arose from an extranodal site. These fields are determined on a case-by-case basis and depend on the type of tumorAn abnormal mass or swelling of tissue, that can occur  anywhere in the body. and the extent of disease. Radiation maybe given to a limited or involved field (a small area) or maybe given more broadly to larger common areas (extended field).

To prepare for radiation therapy, the skin will be marked with tiny ink dots (called “tattoos”) so the exact same area will be treated every time. Before the first treatment, the health care team will devote a substantial amount of time marking the body to make sure that specific areas receive radiation. Normal tissues around the radiation field are shielded by lead, which blocks the path of stray radiation beams. Patients will lie on a table beneath a large machine that delivers the radiation. Once the proper preparations have been made, it takes only a few minutes to deliver the prescribed dose. The total dose of radiation is usually divided and given over one to six weeks.

Potential Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

  • Loss of appetite and taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Throat irritation
  • Skin reactions
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • FatigueA decreased capacity for activity that is often accompanied by feelings of weariness, sleepiness or irritability.